2020: U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup - Japan wins lone global baseball/softball event in 2020

2020: U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup - Japan wins lone global baseball/softball event in 2020
The U-18 Softball World Cup was the WBSC's only World Cup played this year.

On 1 March 2020, the inaugural WBSC U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup came to an end in Palmerston North, New Zealand, when Japan and Australia faced off in the Gold Medal Game.

Held just a few weeks before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WBSC U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup turned into the first and only WBSC World Cup, baseball or softball, played in 2020.

Japan completed an undefeated campaign with a five-inning, 9-2 win over the Aussies to grab their third men’s softball youth world title, including two U-19 world titles.

Top of the Class

The newly formatted U-18 tournament offered some interesting numbers. The Japanese pitching staff had a 1.59 ERA and 63 strikeouts, while their line-up was potent, hitting .366 and scoring 83 runs in nine contests for a 9.23 runs per game average. See the complete statistics of the 2020 WBSC U-18 Men's Softball World Cup here.

The elite youth softball event gathered 12 nations from across the globe to play For the Title of World Champion. Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Singapore and South Africa competed in Group A, while Denmark, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand (host) and USA clashed in Group B. Highlighting softball's growing global footprint, teams representing all five Olympic continents were featured in the youth Softball World Cup.

Proud Winners' Podium

Japan has been one of the top nations in international softball for decades. They have participated in every youth Men's Softball World Cup since 1981, winning three championships (only behind Australia's five) and medalling 11 times overall.

For Australia, the most successful nation in the world in this youth age bracket, it was their first silver medal. Before arriving to Palmerston North, the Aussies had played in five junior Softball World Championship finals and won them all.  

Nations representing three different continents stood on the podium at the closing ceremony, as the Czech Republic won their first-ever medal in men’s softball history. Guided by right-handed pitcher Jakub Osicka, who collected 84 strikeouts in the tournament, the Europe's top junior softball team claimed the bronze medal, defeating South American softball giants Argentina, 2-0.

Japan’s Hitto Nagayoshi earned MVP honours and was named on the WBSC U-18 All-World Softball Team as the second baseman. Five countries were represented on the All-World Team: Australia, Japan, Czech Republic, New Zealand and Argentina. It was the first time that individual awards were given in a softball world championship.

Growing the Game

The WBSC U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup 2020 was the sport's first global competition in this modified age bracket, having replaced the former Junior (U-19) Men’s Softball World Championship.

The event has left a lasting legacy for the local community. Two world-class diamonds were built for the tournament, with a high caliber clubhouse, four locker rooms for the teams, two locker rooms for umpires, a medical room and a multi-purpose room, making Colquhoun Park, in Palmerston North, one of the top softball facilities in New Zealand.

End of Year Review series

2020: Global baseball-softball development doesn’t stop amid global pandemic
2019: Year in Review